Local Basketball Standouts Nyingifa, Gardner Sign With UCLA

Nov. 15, 2007

UCLA head women's basketball coach Kathy Olivier announced today the signing of two highly-regarded local standouts to national letters-of-intent - 5-11 guard Atonye Nyingifa of Torrance, CA (Redondo Union HS) and 5-10 guard Rebekah Gardner of Fontana, CA (Ayala HS). Nyingifa and Gardner will enter UCLA in the fall of 2008 and become members of the 2008-09 Bruin team.

HoopGurlz.com rates the Bruins' class No. 12 overall in its preliminary class rankings. Both Nyingifa and Gardner were selected as Sporting News HS All-Americans and are ranked as Top 75 prospects by HoopGurlz.com, with Nyingifa ranked No. 19 overall and Gardner No. 66. One California prep rating service rates them both as Top 5 prospects in the State, with Nyingifa No. 2 and Gardner No. 5.

Nyingifa, who is rated the No. 6 guard in the nation by HoopGurlz, averaged 16.8 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.5 steals, 2.1 assists and 1.3 blocks as a junior while being named a first-team All-State selection by CalHiSports and the Daily Breeze Player of the Year for the second time in her career. As a freshman in 2005, she was the youngest player ever to receive that award and was also named the CIF Division-IIA Co-Player of the Year. As a sophomore, Nyingifa earned All-CIF second-team honors and honorable mention Street & Smith's All-America acclaim. Playing for club team Cal Swish Black, Nyingifa won MVP honors at the 2007 End of the Trail Tournament and was an all-tournament selection there in 2006.

'Atonye is a scorer who is very aggressive and knows how to get the ball to the basket,' said Olivier. 'She is an overachiever who works extremely hard and never stops working or moving. She's known for her hustle and for outworking people. Atonye plays bigger than her size, and with her aggressiveness and long arms, she gets a lot of points off steals.'

Gardner rates as a Top 25 guard nationally and earned 2007 CIF Division II-A Player of the Year and EA Sports 2nd-Team All-America honors. She led her Ayala HS team to a 31-4 record and the CIF Division II-A title in 2007, averaging 22.9 points, 9.1 rebounds, 4.2 steals, 2.1 assists and 1.4 blocks per game. She has earned CIF All-State and honorable mention Street & Smith's All-America honors two consecutive years. As a sophomore, she averaged 28.7 points, 10.6 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game. Gardner plays for club team FBC.

'Rebekah has great range and can shoot the three,' said Olivier. 'She also has good ball-handling and slashing abilities, and on the defensive end, she has long arms and good quickness. She will blend in really well with the size we have inside and will allow us to stretch out defenses.'

'Both Atonye and Rebekah come from very successful high school programs and know how to win,' noted Olivier. 'They played at the highest club level this summer, and we expect the transition to college to be an easy one for them.'

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